Otso Diretso: Whatever the results, we’ve already won
QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Whatever the results of the 2019 midterm elections on Monday, Otso Diretso senatorial candidates believe they have already won.
According to former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, the opposition’s strategy of campaigning at the grassroots level has fostered a relationship between the bets and the common folk.
“Kahit anong mangyari, nanalo na tayo. Tayo ay nakapagtayo ng napakalaking pamilya, ang pamilya ng Otso Diretso. Simula ngayon hanggang Mayo 13, ang pangalan nating lahat ay Otso Diretso,” Hilbay said during a thanksgiving party at the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, on Wednesday.
[Whatever happens, we’ve already won. We have built a very family, the Otso Diretso family. Starting now until May 13, our name is Otso Diretso.]
“Umulan man o bumagyo, Otso Diretso pa rin,” he added, in reference to the supporters who stayed at the UP Sunken Garden despite a heavy rain.
[Rain or shine, we’re for Otso Diretso.]
These sentiments were also echoed by reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino, who noticed a difference in the way people displayed their support for the opposition candidates. If before most were hesitant to rally behind Otso Diretso, the people’s voices grew — literally and figuratively — as the campaign moved on.
“Alam niyo po, mga kaibigan, napakaraming lugar na po ang napuntahan po namin. Napakarami po ang naka-usap na po namin. Noong una, iikot po kami sa palengke. Pabulong: ‘Senator, Otso Diretso po kami,’” Aquino told the crowd.
[You know, friends, we have gone to so many places. We have talked to so many people. At the start, we went around markets. People would whisper: ‘Senator, we’re for Otso Diretso.’”
“Pagkatapos po ng isang buwan: Senator, Otso Diretso kami. Ngayon linggo ho, pagpasok ho namin: ‘Senator…” he added, pausing — prompting the crowd to shout: “Otso Diretso.”
[After a month: “Senator, we’re for Otso Diretso. This week, whenever we’d arrive: “Senator…”]
“Kayo po ang spirit ng campaign na ito. Ang ating volunteers po ang dugo ng kampanya ng Otso Diretso,” Aquino said.
[You are the spirit of this campaign. It’s our volunteers who are the blood of the Otso Diretso campaign.]
Throughout the campaign period, the Otso Diretso candidates have always been perceived as the underdogs.
Since the Liberal Party (LP) — one of the parties that formed the alliance then known as Oposisyon Koalisyon — fielded its first three candidates last September 2018, only two bets have breached the Magic 12 in the surveys — Aquino and former Interior secretary Mar Roxas.
Still, Otso Diretso supporters — including Vice President Leni Robredo, who is LP chairman emeritus — have been optimistic about their chances, considering that she also initially lagged in the surveys.
Former Deputy House Speaker Erin Tañada’s then asserted that this would not be the last Otso Diretso party in UP Diliman.
“Pagod na ba kayo?” Tañada asked the audience. “Practice lang ‘to, dahil pagkatapos ng Mayo a-trese, magkakaroon ulit tayo ng celebration. Mananalo po tayo sa May 13,” he said.
[Are you all tired? This is just practice, because after May 13, we will again have a celebration. We will win on May 13.]
Otso Diretso candidates have admitted on several occasions that the campaign trail would not be easy and clean. Still, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc said that she was able to cope with monetary problems without being indebted to organizations.
“I can proudly tell you volunteers na hindi ako tumanggap ng donation sa casino or jueteng. I can tell you that. I am filing my statement of expenditures with a clean and honest conscience na wala akong ninakaw — at hindi ako magnanakaw kapag ako ay naluklok,” Gutoc stressed.
[I can proudly tell you volunteers that I did not receive donations from casinos or jueteng. I can tell you that. I am filing my statement of expenditures with a clean and honest conscience that I did not steal — and I would not steal if I get elected.]
“I have spent a little less than P10 million, and that will be on record,” she added. “Inutang ko ‘yon. Naghanap ako ng paraan. Hindi po ako may utang na loob kahit kanino man. I am a woman, and I do not want to sell my soul.”
[I borrowed the money. I found a way. I don’t owe anyone a debt of gratitude. I am a woman, and I do not want to sell my soul.
Meanwhile, Tañada and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano noted the importance of decency in the Senate, which could be attained if it would be independent.
“Kailangan i-upo po natin ang Otso Diretso sa Senado dahil gusto po natin ang isang Senado na hindi takot, na hindi magnanakaw, na hindi bastos, na may takot sa Diyos, tama?” Tañada said.
[We need to put the Otso Diretso in the Senate because we want a Senate that is not afraid, that won’t steal, that is not crude, that is God-fearing, right?]
And Alejano added: “Ang rason kung bakit tayo ay tumatakbo: Dahil sa Pilipino, sa taumbayan. Ang laban natin, win or lose, nagsisimula ngayon dahil pagkatapos ng eleksyon, hindi pe-pwedeng umuwi tayo sa ating bahay at manahimik lamang. Singilin natin ang mga naluklok sa pwesto.”
[The reason for our running: For the Filipino people. Our fight — win or lose — is starting now because after the election we can’t just go home and keep silent. Let’s make those in power accountable.]
In the program called “This is 8,” the candidates thanked volunteers who risked their lives just to campaign for Otso Diretso.
But even while thanking their supporters, the bets could help but throw some shade on the current administration. Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno refrained from giving out the names of his supporters out of supposed ‘fear’ that they may be included in Malacañang’s destabilization matrix.
“Lahat po kayong mga volunteer, grabe ang lapit niyo sa aking puso. Para na rin kayong mga anak ko. Para na rin kayong mga ‘chel-dren’ ni Chel,” Diokno said in jest.
[All you volunteers, you are really close to my heart. You are like my children. You are all like the “chel-dren” of Chel.]
“Alam niyo, dito sa kampanyang ito, ang daming tumulong sa amin. Syempre ‘yong mga natural, biological chel-dren ko, ‘yong aking mga kapatid. Hindi ko na sasabihin ‘yong pangalan baka mai-lagay pa sa matrix,” he added, drawing more laughs from the crowd.
[You know, in this campaign, so many have helped us. Of course, there were my natural, biological “chel-ren” and my siblings. I won’t tell you their names because they might be included in the matrix.]
Diokno was referring to the matrix released by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo implicating several personalities in an alleged plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte. The matrix includes individuals — including Roxas, Hilbay, Alejano, and Aquino — and other groups, including the Liberal Party, Magdalo, and Tindig Pilipinas.
Otso Diretso bets dismissed these as merely a “desperate” attack of the administration to ward off their supporters and voters.
The decision of supporters to stick with Otso Diretso even with these issues did not go unnoticed as election lawyer Romulo Macalintal lauded the volunteers’ insistence to stay with them through thick and thin.
“Ang gabing ito, talaga naman ang ating mga volunteers, ako talaga ay tuwang-tuwa sa nangyayari ngayon. Kahit basang-basa na kayo ng ulan, naririyan pa rin kayo,” Macalintal said.
[This night, with you volunteers, I’m really happy with what’s happening now. I mean, you are all wet in the rain, and yet you’re still there.]
“Yan ay patunay lamang na matibay ang inyong paninindigan. Matibay ang pagmamahal niyo sa Otso Diretso at sa ating bayan, na sa kasalukuyan ay inaapi,” he added.
[That proves that you firmness of your stand. You have a strong love for Otso Diretso and our country, which is now being oppressed.]
It may appear that the chances of all eight candidates landing Senate seats are bleak, considering that only Aquino breached Pulse Asia’s Top 14.
But if Otso Diretso is looking forward to the future — that is, if itsd plan is to build a concrete foundation for the 2022 presidential elections, they may be right in saying that they have won.
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